The American Subject
The first chapter introduces the new math by situating it in two different contexts. First, the chapter locates the novel materials within contemporary curricular reform efforts. Although many curriculum reformers existed at mid-century, the new math curriculum designed by the School Mathematics Study Group under its director, Edward Begle, enjoyed the imprimatur of professional mathematicians and the financial support of the federal government. Second, the new math was part of a much older tradition in which mathematics was understood to be “good” for the mind. Since antiquity, mathematics has enjoyed a close association with reasoning well, both as a method of mental training and as a model of intellectual rigor.
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